1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Smuttynose Big A IPA - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Big A IPASmuttynose Big A IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,530 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,530
Reviews: 876
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.83%
Wants: 90
Gots: 73 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Ever since Stash Wojciechowski, the “Killer Kielbasa,” created this Imperial IPA for our Big Beer Series, Big A IPA has gotten a lot of attention. Lauded by the New York Times and Men's Journal Magazine, it’s been one of the most talked-about beers around. Brewed in very small quantities, it has also been one of the hardest-to-find. Until now.

Big A IPA has everything you’d want in an India Pale Ale, only more: more hops, more malt & more flavor. Na zdrowie!

120 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-16-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Smuttynose Big A IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,530 | Reviews: 876 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brewcrew76
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber

A - Pours a hazy deep golden orange with a thin white head and sticky lacing.

S - Piney, citrus, grapefruit, floral hops.

T - Bitter pine and grapefruit with bits of pineapple followed sweet malt but not enough to balance this one out. It is definitely heavy on the hop side.

M - Medium bodied with an average amount of carbonation and slightly sticky. A touch dry in the finish but that dryness becomes overpowered by the sticky factor.

D - A very solid DIPA. The alcohol is well hidden.

brewcrew76, Jan 20, 2007
Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden/amber, big white head forms, nice lacing and good retention. Smell is very hoppy, pineapples, caramel, some citrus, pine, nice. Taste is grainy, some toffee, very hoppy, citrus and pine, almost medicinal bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, very dry bitter finish. Maybe a little bit too bitter, but I enjoyed it, hop blast. Thanks whoever brought this one, Tim, Jay, or grub!

Viggo, Jan 15, 2007
Photo of Mdog
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Gold with a little haze, a fading head but good lacing.

Smell: Big citrus aroma.

Taste: Citrusy hoppiness, with a fruity sweetness backing it up, very tasty.

Drinkability: Good stuff, but not available in Minnesota.

I picked this up over in Wisconsin, I'll try about any DIPA. This one has a little sweetness in it that I like a lot. Good stuff!

Mdog, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of doubleipa
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a small quarter inch, white, creamu, head. Aroma was a bit weaker than I would have expected considering it has 120 IBUs. There is a heacy hop aroma withlots of pine, spruce, and resin. Not much citrus, though. Seemed pretty heavy for a DIPA. Can really taste the alcohol.

doubleipa, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A slight haze on a golden brew with a copper hue. A large two finger head dissipates in minutes. Copious lacing adorns the glass.

S - Fantastic presentation of floral (lillies and roses) and strong pine hops. A mild sweetness about it as well. The aroma is enchanting. No abv detectable.

T - Initial flavors are of sticky pine and lighter grapefruit with a bit of rose backing. The flavor is quite dry with a very potent bitter aftertaste.

M - A medium body with a bit of a dry feel to it, but all and all slightly refreshing.

D - Not too shabby. I actually went into this not really wanting a hoppy IPA with little sweetness. Even though it wasn't what I wanted, it was able to deliver. I think I might have to have this again (perhaps after I sample the rest of the big beers line from Smuttynose).

M -

mrasskicktastic, Dec 31, 2006
Photo of cooter
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Looks great, except it refused to give me any hea--er, foam on the pour. Granted, I'm using a bulbous glass, but still!

Smells fantastic. It actually jumped out and smacked my nose when I poured it. Hops, vinegar, honey, berries, and luscious springtime are among the scents emitted by this wondrous, un-headed beer.

BAM it's really alcoholic. And as well, it's very tasty. Creamy and smooth and goes down easy (though not in terms of foam). Moderate carbonation with a strong sticky pine aftertaste make it very very enjoyable. It feels like a blended scotch--fiery, but smooth.

Two thumbs up. Very strong, flavorful, and pleasant. Probably poor as a session, but it works perfectly to get a night-after-work started.

cooter, Dec 19, 2006
Photo of kelticblood
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

First sip was extremely harsh. Was so bitter my eyes were watering. Had a wondeful floral, citrus, pine, and hop aroma. The first sip was like watching a child eat something real bitter for the first time. The high ABV is well-hidden. I love real hoppy beers, but this is just too bitter for me. Has a very appealing color like a glowing gold. Very cloudy with decent amount of lacing. Nothing else is tasting other than bitter hops. Well crafted to hide such a big ABV. Stands true to its distinct category so it must be reviewed for that category. This Double IPA delivers just what it says DOUBLE ! Mellows out after about 3 minutes of sipping. This is a heavyweight and not for rookies.

kelticblood, Dec 17, 2006
Photo of jwc215
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours hazy orange (being bottle-conditioned). A thin head leaves traces of lacing along the side.

The smell is floral, bready, some citrus. An underlying brown sugar sweetness.

The taste is very hoppy - chewy, fruity, bready, slightly citrusy hops give it a nice, complex hop profile. Grainy malty sweetness gives it body, depth and some balance. Sharp alcohol gives it a kick. Long, dry, hoppy finish.

Full, rich. Slides down the throught with just a hint of sharpness.

A hop-lovers delight, this one is. Not the usual citrusy, but a blend of different hop styles, with some citrus interwoven. A hearty, strong brew.

jwc215, Dec 17, 2006
Photo of rayjay
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks you zrrbrrt, for surprising me with this bottle. It poured out hazy amber-orange, white head and lace. The nose reminded me of hoppy, minty shaving cream.

Loads of dried apricots in this one. It has mellowed in the bottle a few months, but the hops still come off lively and energetic (although not sharp and pungent, as they probably once were). Fresh cut pine timber. I like it alot at about 45°F, because it keeps the malt in check; right now, it's providing a solid backdrop without getting in the way at all. The hops ride out the aftertaste for quite a spell, but never quite fade to sheer bitterness like many IPAs do; rather, the full flavor of the hops stays for the duration. Maybe some buiscuit malts?

This is a very fine 2xIPA, from a brewery that has yet to dissapoint me. I first had their beer in 1998, and have thoughly enjoyed the few I've had since then. CA would love it if there's enough to go around! Cheers!

rayjay, Dec 14, 2006
Photo of jamie2dope
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Smuttynose Big A IPA poured an extremely cool looking golden color....completely clear, with a small laced heading. Aroma was totally of juicy citrusy fruits...very tropical in nature. I would say I picked up on some pineapple and orange, but a definite hop smell in there too. Taste was syrupy sweet, with nectar notes, more fruit flavor, and a nice bitter hoppiness in the back. This beer seemed much lighter in body in appearance then it did once it met the palate. It's not nearly as harsh as many of the other DIPA's i've tried, but still pretty heavy either way. I wish I had picked up a few bombers of this beer, as it is damn drinkable, and really tasty at that. Smuttynose completely knows what it is doing in the India Pale Ale category. Their Finest Kind, and this are two of the best of their type in my opinion. Then again, I cannot ever recall a time where a Smuttynose beer let me down. A lovely warming treat for the cold weather...holds up in my book as one of the best Double IPA's on the market. Happy Trails

jamie2dope, Dec 13, 2006
Photo of supercolter
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a very quality beer, definately my favorite DIPA, but maybe just a bit lighter than expected.
Appearance is decent, not a good deal of head or lacing, yellow-orange in color.
Smell is fantastic, floral hops and a sweeter citrus smell fill my nostrils with goodness.
Taste is very similar to the smell, but just a bit too light to drop a 5.
Mouthfeel is very good as well, but again just not quite syrupy enough for a 5.
Drinkability is excelent, especially for the style.

supercolter, Dec 12, 2006
Photo of Enola
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Purplehops

This beer is a little lighter than typical of a DIPA. It is a yellowish orange. There is a small head. The smell is citrusy. The taste is hoppy, of course. There is also a good amount of bitterness to go around. The mouthfeel is suprisingly smooth for such a big beer. The alcohol takes a back seat to the huge hop profile. There is a stickiness that is usually paired with hops. The drinkability is good. I bet it would be easy to get in a little trouble with this beer considering the ABV. Overall, pretty damn good.

Enola, Nov 28, 2006
Photo of EvilKeith
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big “A” IPA poured into the glass a chill hazed copper color. The head was thick off-white creamy lather-like foam. The lace was thick and meringue-like in appearance.
The smell was bright citrus and pine resin with a light buttery note and pineapple as it warmed.
The taste was sweet but acidic tangerine citrus, caramel malt, pine and hop oil, with an overt alcohol presence. There was significant hop bitterness and a pleasant dry finish. Balance is maintained with the hop bitterness allowing just enough of the malt sweetness to show through.
The body was medium-heavy and the mouthfeel came across as creamy. This is a pretty good DIPA. If not for the higher ABV this could certainly be a sessionable beer.

EvilKeith, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep golden color with a thick white head, almost meringue like. Rather thick sheeting on the side of the glass - too heavy to call "lace"

Very floral nose, quite captivating. Herbal, green, floral, sweet hoppy notes are all in abundance. Far from overdone but really, really big aromas. Heck, you can smell it from across the room!

Very flavorful as well but the malt is a bit on the weak side... Strong hops as you'd expect with a very "East Coast" mix of floral and herbal notes. Some woody and grassy hop flavors as well. Not much malt flavoring to balance the hops - there's a generalized sweetness but nothing more complex.

Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation to liven up each sip. Slightly oily residue and moderate bitterness at the finish but not aggressive. No alcohol burn but a bit of alcohol vapor in the back of the nose with each sip.

All in all tasty and a really good presentation of hops. Flavorful but just a little bit one dimensional. High ABV makes it a bit less drinkable than "Finest Kind" but if you enjoy the IPA you'd certainly enjoy this...

RedwoodGeorge, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of WeisGuy
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a - deep burnt orange color, very hazy, half-inch head with very little retention and a bit of lacing

s - piney hops dominate nose, but there is noticeable amounts of sweet maltiness and alcohol as well

t - sweet caramelly maltiness up front with a nice piney bitterness developing quickly, finish has some alcohol and lots of bitterness, pretty balanced

m - medium-bodied, moderate carbonation, dry finish

d - somewhat drinkable, though the high abv and dry finish might limit me to one, maybe two, bombers

Nice DIPA, a truly big beer that is another good brew by folks at Smutty. With my limited access to Smuttynose here in NC though, for my money, I'll be drinking Finest Kind.

WeisGuy, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22 ounce bottle, with a lovely colorful label exactly like that shown in the BA Database, sealed with a crown cap says “Make mine a Smutty”. No strength listed, nor a Best Before Date, but it does have a “Bottle Conditioned in 2006” in a yellow circle at the bottom of the label.

Appearance: Clouded grapefruit body with a hazed pineapple dimension. Dirty white head climbs the glass, sticky lacing coats the sides of the glass from where the dizzy heights of the frothy cap ceased to rise all the way down to the surface of this brew. Head slowly breaks but despite the random and partially broken nature of its looks it retains good coverage. Finely dissolved carbonation builds with a gentle swirl. It all looks damned good in my favorite 24 ounce handled Mug.

Nose: Pinching citrus, orange and grapefruit is rounded off with some mellow passion fruit and gentle, almost perfumed peach cum apricot soft fruit edge to deliver a very confident aroma overall. Fresh, punchy and a little in your face, but in a very respectful way.

Taste: Starts with a big malt entrance which has a cutting bitterness and a quick fleeting insight into the 9.2% alcohol. Soon the tangy grapefruit hops fill the middle with a bitterness that starts astringent but soon fleshes out with some peach and orange to lend a more tolerated profile. Has a natural balance that never feels manufactured, calculate or forced, moreover the sense of equilibrium between the mats and hops feels organic, though the hops certainly try hard to tip the scales in their favor.

Mouthfeel: Soft as peaches with some resinous fleshed out oranges that have a juicy nature. Nonetheless, this is a full bodied brew which portrays and projects itself extremely well.

Drinkability: Shockingly easy to forget how potent this one is. The cutting bitterness is lovable and even a little harsh at times, but in a good way. Not exactly clean on the palate but I wouldn’t expect that, the feel and bite from this is defined and it has a way of making you take the next sip sooner that you really want to. A gluttonous IPA.

Overall: Highly enjoyable, a well balanced, sharp biting brew that commands a respectful deference. Like a Grizzly Bear, it seems cuddly and lovable one moment but you know that it has the potential to get wild and kick your ass if you mistreat it.

This is one great brew to watch the 2nd Day of the First Ashes Test between Australia and England live from the Gabba…..this Big A IPA is a “Rippaah” too.

Raised to celebrate a Happy Birthday to Ian “Beefy” Botham, a young 51, and oh how England could do with some of his magic today.

A Big Ass Cheers for this magical brew Joe!

TheLongBeachBum, Nov 24, 2006
Photo of Cresant
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 22 oz. brown bottle into a Tripel Karmeliet glass. Slightlty cloudy orange/gold body had a chill haze. Minimal head even with an aggressive pour. Bottle was about 48F.

Smell was very difficult to discern. Not much smell at all until the beer warmed significantly. When the aromas started to unfold they were everchanging beginning with mild citrus hops. Rye bread. Spice and powdered donuts. Mild alcohol presence.

Taste was pine tree bark. Coniferous sweetness with a stripping hops bitterness. Citrus and alcohol. Marmalade. Not citrus pith but citrus sweetness. Not as flavorful as Finest Kind and somewhat lacking in the overall presentation.

Mouthfeel was medium/full bodied with mild carbonation. Alcohol hits the brain. Not one I will seek out again.

Cresant, Nov 23, 2006
Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber bottle conditioned in 2006.
Poured into my nonic pint glass.

Appearance - Mildly cloudy golden orange with an inch of eggshell tinted foam. Minimal lacing on the glass with each sip.
Smell - Immediately hit with floral hops and malted grains. As it warms, I'm getting a strong nose of bitter citrus and peach.
Taste - First comes a bitter lemon hop flavor, followed by sweet tropical fruit, then the bitterness returns with some cirtus peel and malt in the passenger seat.
Mouthfeel - Medium in both body and carbonation. Lightly coats the tongue.
Drinkability - Hides it's alcohol pretty well. Not as balanced as DFH 90 Min. but still a really good DIPA. Grab a bottle if you see it.

ClockworkOrange, Nov 21, 2006
Photo of Donthoseme
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one of my favorite beers. Too bad it's 4 bucks a bottle (22oz). They don't call this a big beer for nothing. It's more malty than a normal IPA which is expected from a double it's also less carbonated (also expected). It pours a thinker gold and smells of some serious hops. The 10% acohol is balanced very well. If you have a chance to drink one of these it's worth every penny. Damn what a good beer.

Donthoseme, Nov 21, 2006
Photo of jameaterblues
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes...on tap at hop devil grill.
A-Bright Gold, with a 1/2 inch creamy head, and a think lace.
S- Sweet...honey...musky hops with a little floral and herbs(savory) coming through. Slightly fruity with peach and citrus both present.
T- Big hops with lots of citrus....slightly sweet with both peach, a little red fruit and a bit of honey or sugar.
M/D thick and syrupy with a very long finish.

jameaterblues, Nov 20, 2006
Photo of kernalklink
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This brew poured cloudy gold with some great lacing. The aromas were all hops, spicy and complex with a hint of alcohol. One thing that comes with the first sip is the heaviness- not thick but heavy on the tongue and in the mouth, with minimal carbonation. The malt flavors are present and robust, but the hops are almost one of a kind- all around bitterness that overpowers the malt character and surrounds the tongue. The alcohol was hidden nicely by the nutty buttery finish and the lasting hop flavors. One bottle was enough for me.

kernalklink, Nov 19, 2006
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly murky orange-yellow body with a finger of offwhite head. Smells extremely hoppy, with pine and citrus notes. Tastes very hoppy, with almost equal parts citrus and pine flavors. Alcohol is also evident, but is fairly subdued. Body is surprisingly full, despite the fact that this beer feels neither syruppy nor overpowering. It leaves a fair bit of lacing on the glass. Carbonation is not quite as strong as one might expect. While not as good as 90 minute (what is?), this is a decent imperial IPA, and I may get it again.

MrHurmateeowish, Nov 17, 2006
Photo of Callenak
2.5/5  rDev -37%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a nice pale/golden color. I'm so used to east coast DIPA's not being pale that this was a relief. Small white head that lingered for a short while.

Smell was more earthy and piney than citrusy. Be curious if they used some sort of noble hops in it.

Taste was a little disappointing but matched the smell. I've had many great DIPA's and know this style well, this beer just isn't doing it. A earthy bitterness without much citrus/fruit in the finish. Malt is dry and stale.

Sorry just not digging this beer. I had my hopes up on the pour but that was the best part.

Callenak, Nov 15, 2006
Photo of Atlas1
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber, this IPA from the Smuttynose Big Beer Series is a clean-looking orange/gold color. A faint hoppiness in the aroma, although I also detect that big beer alcohol smell too. It's not bad, just not as aromatic as I'd hoped. Thin head which dissipates quickly. True to the name, it's a big beer, with a flavor that will catch you off-guard if you're not expecting it. A complex malt and hop union that you want to savor for a while with each taste. Noticeable alcohol here too. Healthy, solid mouthfeel. Finishes strong too, but clean. If you like hearty IPAs, this is worth a try.

Atlas1, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Manosbeeroffate for including this bonus in our trade for Finest Kind.
A pretty DIPA...cloudy golden yellow with a solid finger of white foam that melts to very sticky lacing.
Aroma is lightly sweet malt and very havy with fresh pine and citrus hops. Hops are very clean and bright in the nose.
Flavor is creamy thick sweet pale malt and the impression of candy sugar. The hops start soft and mild with the malt then overpower the sweetness completely moving to grapefruit citrus peel. Aftertaste is all of the citrus peel drying the mouth. Spreading warmth of alcohol penetrates the chest and torso.
Big Beer Series VERY big IPA. Good stuff.

IntriqKen, Nov 08, 2006
Smuttynose Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,530 ratings.